Words at Play : Top 10 Words for Useful & Intriguing Concepts

#2: Esprit de l'escalier

Definition:

A witty remark thought of too late, on the way home; the clever comment you wish you had delivered

Example:

"When he bragged about sleeping like a baby, I should have added the bit about waking up crying every two hours, but that's just esprit de l'escalier. At the time I just nodded and said nothing."

About the Word:

From the French for "staircase wit," this phrase was coined by 18th century encyclopedist Denis Diderot. As a simpler alternative to esprit de l'escalier, English speakers sometimes use escalator wit.

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July 06, 2015
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absolute or relating to a category
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